Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai

BY SEGUN ADEBAYO, ABUJA – The Atyap Community Development Association (ACDA) on Wednesday described the setting up of white paper drafting committee on panels’ reports of Zangon Kataf crises of 1992 and 1995 by Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai of Kaduna State as suspicious, saying almost all the recommendations of both the Justice Rahila Cudjoe and AVM Usman Mu’azu panels have either been fully implemented or overtaken by events.

In a statement issued by the Secretary-General of the group, Mr. Sule Tinat Bodam, the Atyap ethnic nationality accused el-Rufa’s spokesman, Mr Muyiwa Adekeye, of intentionally engaging in falsehood with the sole intention of misleading the general public on both reports.

Faulting Adekeye who falsely claimed that recommendations of both panels “have not received comprehensive response or attention” as no white paper was drafted, the ACDA discredited such an assertion as a blatant falsehood, saying while the non-drafting of the white paper “could apply to the Cudjoe Commission, it is not true that a White Paper was not produced on the AVM Mu’azu Committee report. The evidence for the existence of a White Paper on the Mu’azu Committee Report is in a Press Release by the Office of the Executive Governor of Kaduna State of Nigeria, Ref. No. GH/KD/S/315, dated 4th July 2000, where the then governor stated that his administration was going to faithfully and equitably implement the contents of the White Paper. That White Paper is available in Government House Kaduna, and we ask the Government of Governor Nasir Ahmad El Rufai to make the original White Paper on the AVM Usman Mu’azu Reconciliation Committee public without tampering with the contents.”

Disputing the claim by Adekeye that both reports “have not received comprehensive response or attention” by previous administrations of the Kaduna State Government, the Atyap people noted that both “the Federal and Kaduna State governments over the years took several far-reaching decisions on the recommendations in those Reports and implemented them. It is indeed very strange that the el- Rufai government wants to exhume and draft a White Paper on the Cudjoe Commission reports written 28 years ago, most of the issues of which have been resolved. The question arises as to what the El-Rufai government seeks to achieve by drafting a White Paper over a report whose recommendations were implemented by the Federal and Kaduna State Governments, and on which any other remaining issues have been overtaken by events.”

The Atyap ethnic nationality criticized Adekeye’s claim that “Violent clashes broke out in Zangon-Kataf LGA on 11th June 2020 between two communities that were reportedly disputing ownership of farmlands whose place in the conflict is mentioned in the 1992 and 1995 reports”.

Recalling that the June 11, 20202 crisis was triggered by the coldblooded murder of a 32-year-old primary school teacher, Yusuf Musa Magaji, on his farm in Zangon Kataf Urban District, the ACDA noted, “Yusuf’s brutal murder was the twelfth in a long string of such murders perpetrated by Fulani individuals and groups against Atyap men and women since 2017, which had been reported to the security agencies in Zangon Kataf LGA and Kaduna State, without these authorities bringing the perpetrators to justice,” the statement recalled..
Dismissing the idea behind the setting up of the Government’s White Paper Committee as a ploy to enthroning orchestrated falsehood aimed at deceiving members of the public, the ACDA accused Mr. Adekeye of having “mischievously falsified the findings of the Cudjoe Commission.”

Quoting copiously the Justice Cudjoe’s report that had identified three immediate causes of the 1992 crisis that included “the relocation of the Zangon Kataf weekly market; its handling by the authorities and the police; and reactions to the provocative actions of Alhaji Danbala A. T. K. of Zangon Kataf town”, the Atyap ethnic nationality identified the “inadequacy of the old market situated in the heart of Zango Kataf town”, the socio-economic set-up peculiar to Zangon Kataf, religious intolerance, disregard for each other’s’ customs and traditions, mutual suspicion between both communities and issues related to mixed marriages between the Hausas and the Katafs as the remote causes of that crisis.

“The only remote cause related to land was that of hurumi (communal grazing area), over which the Commission ignored all evidence presented by the Atyap, and uncritically accepted claims by the Hausa that a former Hausa/Fulani District Head of Zangon Kataf took the land from the Katafs and gave to the Hausas in 1920. The other remote cause was a dispute over a small piece of land called “Baradawa”, the Atyap ancestral ceremonial ground, which the Cudjoe Commission established that a Court of competent jurisdiction had ruled in favour of the Atyap in 1984, and over which the Atyap held a Kaduna State Local Government Certificate of Occupancy No. KCH/A/000768, dated 20th August 1986, issued by the then Kachia Local Government, of which the present Zangon Kataf LGA was a part. Where then is the connection between what the Cudjoe Commission wrote and Mr. Adekeye’s manufactured fables that what happened in 2020 was over the same land as in 1992?” the ACDA queried.

The Atyap also disagreed with Adekeye when he declared that “the riots of February 1992 led to 95 deaths, and 1,528 deaths in May 1992, 305 in Kaduna, Zaria, Ikara, etc. While it was indeed regrettable and unfortunate that people lost their lives, the contents of the Cudjoe reports show that they derived their figures of casualties from one individual named Ibrahim Kutumbi Chakaikai, a resident of Zangon Kataf, who claimed to have derived the list from relatives of the deceased. There were no subsequent investigations by the Police or any authority admissible in law to verify the claims contained in the memoranda the Cudjoe Commission stated it relied on to arrive at the figures it published in its reports.”

Describing Adekeye’s claim that the panels have not received comprehensive response as patently false that is contradicted by the facts, the Atyap people recalled that the reports have been attracted responses that include, among others, “visiting harsh retribution on the Atyap, and the General Babangida government did so, using Decree No. 2 of 1985 and passing Decree 55 (1992) to oust the jurisdiction of the courts and deny the Atyap the rights to fair hearing and appeal.

“Certain Atyap individuals named in the September 1992 Cudjoe Report were arrested, detained, tried and sentenced to death, life imprisonment and various other jail terms by the Okadigbo Tribunal, and they served their terms. Between 1992 and September 1994 the Babangida regime, exercising dictatorial powers enshrined in Decree No. 55, also ignored the judgment of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, that the fundamental human rights of the Atyap Elders had been violated. The Kaduna State Government and Adekeye cannot pretend not to know that subsequent Federal Administrations pardoned the unjustly convicted Atyap leaders and set them free. Is this what the el-Rufai administration want to review through their White Paper?

“Cudjoe’s recommendations on payment of compensation to the Hausas of Zangon Kataf for alleged losses they sustained were fully implemented by the government.
“The Cudjoe Commission recommended the rebuilding of Zangon Kataf town, with all the facilities and amenities of a modern town, and it was completely rebuilt by the Federal Government.”

Describing the inability of former Governor Dabo Lere to draft white paper on the Cudjoe’s panel’s report, the ACDA said, “The Dabo Mohammed Lere-led government did not write a White Paper on the Cudjoe Commission report because that report could not in any way meet the basic requirements of fair hearing, did NOT stand the most rudimentary test of justice, and was neither judicial nor judicious in its operations, conduct and procedure.

It was based on the unjust disposition of the Cudjoe’s report that former military administrator Col. Lawal Ja’afaru Isa set up the AVM Mu’azu Committee, comprising equal representatives from both Hausa/Fulani and Atyap communities on the Committee.

The ACDA also noted that contrary to claims by el-Rufai’s spokesman that the AVM Mu’azu committee could not resolve three burning issues on “Ownership over farmlands, Release of White Paper on the report of the Cudjoe Commission of Inquiry, Release of Detainees,” the Atyap people said far-reaching decisions were taken by the AVM Mu’azu panel, with some of recommendations fully implemented by the Kaduna State Government. The setting up of Customary Courts and Customary Court of Appeal for native communities, creation of Atyap chiefdom and Zangon Kataf Urban District were also fully implemented by Col Isa.
In conclusion, the Atyap community maintained that there are no justifiable reasons to set up a white paper drafting committee on Zangon Kataf crises of 1992 and 1995, as “the recommendations of the Justice Rahila Cudjoe Commission have been fully implemented; the Government of Kaduna State had already produced a White Paper from the AVM Mu’azu Reconciliation Committee Report, which past Governments of Kaduna State have been implementing since 1995”.

The only outstanding issues on this White Paper yet to be implemented, the ACDA added, “are the actualization of the Buffer Zone/Irrigation Project and the actualization of the approved Atak Jei Residential Layout to foster development and integration in the Community as envisaged by the AVM Mu’azu Committee”.

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